Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, speaks during Tuesday’s COVID briefing. — Photo: Communications Nova Scotia Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia announced new restrictions, closures and fines for the Halifax area on Tuesday as the province identified one of its highest numbers of new cases during the entire pandemic.

The province announced 37 new cases on Tuesday — the fifth highest number of daily new cases reported and the highest since April 18.

Of the new cases, identified on Monday and reported on Tuesday, 35 were in the central zone, one was in the northern zone and related to Halifax and one was in the western zone at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, which will now be closed for the rest of the week. There are now 87 known active cases in the province.

“If you haven’t woken up to the second wave, this is your wake-up call,” Premier Stephen McNeil said during Tuesday’s briefing.

“There is no doubt that COVID is in our communities and it is trying to take a grip on the greater Halifax area.”

As of Thursday at 12:01am, for two weeks, the province is implementing the following restrictions in the Halifax and Hants county area:

  • All attendees of illegal gatherings will be fined $1,000 — not just the host
  • Restaurants and bars are closed to in-person dining
  • Retail stores must limit shoppers and staff to 25% of total capacity
  • Wineries, distilleries and breweries are closed to tastings and dining, and must follow retail rules
  • Sports, recreation, athletic, arts and cultural and faith-based activities are cancelled
  • Fitness centres, libraries, museums and casinos are closed

The social gathering limit of five remains in place for that area, with households allowed to have five guests.

There are also new restrictions across the province, also effective Thursday: people are asked to avoid non-essential travel, especially to or from HRM or outside of the province; visitors will be barred from long-term care facilities; and sports teams will not be permitted to travel between regions.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said he wanted to institute these “tough measures” earlier in the second wave, unlike other provinces.

Strang said he knows it will be difficult for Nova Scotians to follow these rules during the holidays, but the first priority needs to be keeping each other safe.

“This year, the way we care for each other, the way we show that we love each other, is by keeping each other COVID safe,” Strang said.

“Everything else — gifts, faith celebrations, they are secondary to what we’re doing primarily which is about showing that we care for each other.”

Strang suggested that rather than rushing out to Black Friday, Nova Scotians should support local businesses online or donate to local charities.

Strang said if the province can be vigilant for two weeks, or potentially longer, and then slowly ease up, Nova Scotia can overcome the virus. He said these decisions weigh on him heavily.

“We’re back to where we were in March or April. It’s hard for everybody and we’re feeling that. But just because it’s hard doesn’t make it impossible,” Strang said.

“We are where we are. How we get out of this is what I’ve just talked about. This is our moment. As we did in Wave 1, it’s our moment to come together and deal with Wave 2. By acting quickly and aggressively, it’s the best way to keep all of us safe and it puts us on the fastest road to economic recovery. It is now in all of our hands.”

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Dr Strang told reporters he lies awake worrying about businesses closing down.
    He should resign or retire.
    Worrying about businesses closing down is not part of his legal responsibilities set out in legislation; see here : https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/health%20protection.pdf
    He has the responsibility to protect citizens from communicable diseases. It is a heavy responsibility.
    I would like to introduce him, and the Premier, to the principle of ‘General Average’.
    ” General Average dictates that in the event that an intentional sacrifice is made for the safety of the individuals and cargo on board the vessel, all parties involved with the ocean voyage will proportionally share in the losses of the cargo and the ship. All parties involved must share the cost of any losses caused by the sacrifice so that in the event of an emergency, the crew doesn’t waste time deciding whose cargo should be sacrificed. The party whose cargo is lost in the incident has the right to compensation from the parties whose cargo was saved as a result of the sacrifice.”
    The losses from temporarily closing businesses down would be covered by all citizens through the actions by government.
    For the greater good Strang should have never referred to any economic results of his decisions.
    His job is to keep Nova Scotians safe from the dangers of any pandemic.
    Finally, I believe that a Medical Officer of Health has a duty to citizens , not a premier, not a business and not to an industry.
    ” Powers respecting communicable diseases
    32 (1) Where a medical officer is of the opinion, upon reasonable and probable grounds, that
    (a) a communicable disease exists or may exist or that there is an immediate risk of an outbreak of a
    communicable disease;
    (b) the communicable disease presents a risk to the public health; and
    (c) the requirements specified in the order are necessary in order to decrease or eliminate the risk to the
    public health presented by the communicable disease,
    the medical officer may by written order require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action that is specified in the order in respect of a communicable disease. “

    1. Absolutely spot on Colin. Thanks for reminding everyone of the actual responsibilities of a CMOH. We would all do well to remember that businesses can’t survive if their employees and customers are all sick.

  2. Probably at least half of HRM have known that this should have been done 2 weeks ago when the Bitter End – Clayton Park cluster happened, Strang and MacNeil are too late again. Do they learn nothing from other places? You need to act very quickly, especially in places where masks aren’t worn. You have to wonder about schools though. The main differences from the summer are schools and the colder weather. One or both must the culprit.

    1. In my opinion, the Clayton Park-Bitter End cluster was handled the way it should have been as there was no community spread from that cluster. Now there is community spread, so now is the time to shut things down again. The one thing that I will miss is my library. Hoping that I will learn tomorrow that curbside pickup will remain even during the closure because I somehow doubt that this closure will just be 14 days long. I see it lasting into the new year…….but I will continue to go out when I need, to socially distance, to wash my hands, and to wear a mask where required. That is all I can do and is all I can ask anyone else to do. Stay safe HRM.